Signals #16 – Mentoring

Challenge

  • Growth can be limited because you only have access to your own knowledge and experiences.

Opportunity

  • Grow faster by leveraging the lessons learnt from other people. Or help others grow by sharing your own journey.

Actions

  • Build a tribe of mentors around you. Reach to your own networks or let a paid service do the heavy lifting.
  • Start a mentoring business. Matt Farley mentors front-end developers and charges $100-150/h. One way to establish credibility: share value daily with your audience. @vponamariov is great at this.
    • [Pro] Start by offering free mentoring. Get some social proof and a couple of good testimonials. Join a platform like the The Mentoring Club.
    • [Pro] After your first successful sessions, move to a general platform like Upwork and see if you can sell some paid sessions. Set your hourly rate reasonably low at first ($20-50/h).
    • [Pro] Once you get the flywheel spinning, join a pre-vetted platform like MentorCruise or MentorPass where earnings range from $300-1500/month (MentorCruise) to $100-500/hour (MentorPass).
    • [Pro] After earning your stripes and building an audience move off from the platforms (like Matt Farley above) and offer your services without middlemen. This often saves fees up to 20%.
  • Build an internal mentoring program at your company. 5 great examples: Caterpillar, Schneider Electric, Bain & Company, General Electric and Fidelity Investments.
  • [Pro] Build a mentor marketplace. GrowthMentor pre-vets mentors and only lets the top 5% in. They charge a monthly fee from the mentees and and are making $5K/month (Feb 2020). Mind the lessons from digital marketplaces: network effects are crucial.
  • [Pro] Build mentoring software for custom mentoring programs. See Mentorloop, MentorCliq and Guider-AI.
  • [Pro] Start a non-profit mentoring program. Covid is taking a huge toll on young people. Help those struggling with school or having a rough patch in life. Pros and cons of starting a non-profit.
  • [Pro] Start a peer mentoring group. The quality of matches and availability of participants is important. Examples include Indie Worldwide and Zero to One.

Platforms

  • MentorCruise – Mentors for tech, design, founders and marketing.
  • MentorPass – Idea validation, products, growth, operation and performance mentors.
  • Squired – Advisors from top universities.
  • Expat Mentors – Get guidance from seasoned expats.
  • Growthmentor – Get or give advice to boost startup growth.
  • The Mentoring Club – Free mentoring for founders, engineers, marketers and creatives.
  • Re:create – Mentoring for creatives.
  • [Pro] SharpestMinds – Data science mentors.
  • [Pro] Manatee Mentor – Earn and use points to give and receive mentoring.
  • [Pro] Springboard – Data science student mentoring.
  • [Pro] Codementor – Software mentors.
  • [Pro] Webmentor – Web development mentors.
  • [Pro] MicroMentor – Free mentoring for entrepreneurs around the globe.
  • [Pro] Coding Coach – Free mentoring for coders.
  • [Pro] PushFar – Career progression mentoring.
  • [Pro] Macro Mentors – Career guidance.
  • [Pro] Skillful – Level up your career.
  • [Pro] Clarity.fm – Startup advice.
  • [Pro] Indie Worldwide – Peer mentoring from indie makers.
  • [Pro] HiveMentor – Business mentoring.
  • [Pro] Elo – A mentoring software platform.
  • [Pro] RookieUp – Mentors for Front-End Web Development, UX design, Photography, Writing and more
  • [Pro] Lean In – Mentoring for women.
  • [Pro] GetMerit – Tech coaching.
  • [Pro] Designed – A non-profit for design education.
  • [Pro] Exercism – Coding practive and mentorships.
  • [Pro] Frondend Mentor – Solve coding challenges and get feedback.

Pros

  • Mentoring is industry-independent. Still most current platforms seem to concentrate on the tech space. Many niches are still largely unexploited. How about mentoring for healthcare, trades or heavy industries?
  • Many mentoring platforms accept only the top 5% of mentors – this creates a moat for those who get in.
  • [Pro] Everyone can be a mentor. The point is to help someone through your unique experiences. Your path is unique when compared to others.
    • A senior dev? Mentor a junior dev.
    • A junior dev? Mentor a university student.
    • A founder with $10K/MRR? Mentor someone with $1K/MRR.
    • A founder with $100/MRR? Mentor someone with $0/MRR.
  • [Pro] Mentoring has a low upfront investment cost. You are the product.

Cons

  • Experience is a pre-requisite for higher mentoring fees.
  • Anyone can be a mentor. Mentoring is a low-barrier space. Which attracts also scammers and shady characters.
  • [Pro] Plenty of free mentoring exists. It’s harder to build around something that is offered for free elsewhere.
  • [Pro] The tough sides of mentoring: it can be a time sink, frustrating, uncomfortable and heart-breaking.

Cases

  • MentorCruise (founded by @dqmonn) established its first mentorship in 2018. Their story is a great example of doing the basics right and not giving up. MentorCruise is now making $7.8K/month.
  • Pro Code Mentoring (@mcapodici) offers “Me as a Service”. For $99/h or $899/10h you get an experienced software mentor, live coding help and career advice.
  • How to make an extra $10K per year by coaching and helping others.
  • [Pro] Squired helps students to improve their chances of getting accepted to selective universities through mentoring. 3000 signups in about 1 year and $1K monthly revenue.
  • [Pro] Kamil Sattar started by flipping clothing, which led him to start a dropshipping business. E-Commerce Mentoring now helps others to start successful dropshipping stores and makes $100K/month.

Forecast

  • Virtual mentoring is already a given. It gives unprecedented access to mentors around the world, it’s more time efficient and allows to meet more mentors faster.
  • Reverse mentoring becomes common in many organizations. A step further: reverse diverse mentoring ensures that leaders get insights to the obstacles that minority employees face. Reverse diverse mentoring grew by over 200% during 2020.
  • [Pro] Shadow boards are an application of reverse mentoring.
  • [Pro] AI will disrupt mentoring. FLEXA is one of the first applications. It’s a digital mentor that evaluates a student and generates personalized learning pathways based on their skillsets.

Resources

  • Why You Should Pay for a Mentor – The reasons why markets for paid mentors exist.
  • We’re Huge Fans of Online Mentoring Platforms – A list of 20 more mentoring platforms.
  • [Pro] Developers mentoring other developers – Mentoring practices that have worked well in the tech space: onboarding, informal, formal and remote mentorships.
  • [Pro] How can a startup mentor help your business succeed? – Veteran vs. specialist vs. peer vs. operator mentoring.
  • [Pro] Mentoring from privilege – Sponsorship vs. mentorship and how to account for privilege when mentoring.
  • [Pro] Advice for finding mentorship – Interact with your idols, ask them specific questions and demonstrate commitment.

Takeaways

  • Mentoring is easy to start and can bring in $100-500/h. But low barrier-to-entry means also a lot of competition.
  • Mentoring as a paid service is still a relatively new idea and focused largely on the tech space. Market gaps outside this area exist.
  • Non-profits are also an option when starting a mentoring program.